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Important questions to consider before ending your marriage

The decision to divorce, particularly when there are children involved, is never an easy one. Many people facing marital problems are overwhelmed by emotions that can make it difficult to make a decision that will impact themselves and their children for a lifetime.

Dr. Phil McGraw, popularly known as "Dr. Phil," has a "Divorce Readiness Test" to help people think through their situation clearly and do some serious soul-searching before taking this step. It consists of five main questions to ask yourself, with multiple queries within those.

A key question involves "unfinished emotional business." He says that you should not make life-changing decisions if you still feel anger, resentment and other emotions. You should be at peace with yourself, your decision and the new life you will have.

You should also ask if you have truly done everything possible to repair your marriage. This includes looking at what caused the marriage to dissolve and what role you played in it. It can include seeing a therapist or clergy member. They can provide some outside perspective and clarity. For some people, self-help books and/or prayer are valuable.

If you have children, there are two important questions to ask. First, you need to determine whether you can get through a divorce without burdening your children with your problems and feelings. It is not their job to provide you with emotional support.

Next, ask yourself if you are ready to have an amicable relationship with your spouse as co-parents. Both parents have to be willing to set aside their feelings about each other for the good of their children. This goes back to the point about being at peace with your decision and leaving the emotional turmoil behind.

Finally, it's essential to prepare yourself from a legal perspective. That includes knowing what individual and marital assets you and your spouse have. Empower yourself before you make the move. Consult several divorce or family law attorneys to get some guidance before you seek a divorce.

Obviously, every situation is different. Some people don't choose divorce; their spouse chooses it. Some situations involve domestic violence, and there is no choice but to leave for the safety of yourself and your children. Experienced North Dakota family law attorneys have likely seen all types of scenarios and can provide legal guidance and support as well as referrals to other resources as clients go through this difficult time.

Source: The Huffington Post, "5 Questions You Need To Ask Before You Decide To Divorce" Phil McGraw, Oct. 24, 2014

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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
  4. You can only control yourself and how you respond. Don't engage.
  5. Do set up rules and responsibilities. Kids feel better when routine is continued.
  6. You are still their parent — don't be afraid to be one.
  7. Disneyland is in California, not in your home. Don't set up unreasonable expectations.
  8. It is not their job to take care of you. Repeat that to them. Often.
  9. Yelling is for sports — not court. Good lawyers strongly advocate without being disrespectful to opposing parties.
  10. Fair is a place you go to get cheese curds. Aside from that, nothing in life is fair.

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